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Making - and re-living - history

Nick Robinson | 08:22 UK time, Friday, 14 May 2010

Having taken a leap in the dark by forming a coalition, will David Cameron now take another by embracing political reform - to the electoral system, to the Commons and the Lords - which he once opposed?

Benjamin DisraeliWas the prime minister inspired by the example of that great Tory reformer Benjamin Disraeli?

Some of those advising Nick Clegg how to prepare for coalition talks with David Cameron recalled words, which I confess I had forgotten, he used in an interview with me for my Radio 4 documentary about Benjamin Disraeli [scroll to bottom of page]. Mr Cameron praised his predecessor for his sheer audacity in outmanoeuvring Gladstone on the issue of political reform - first opposing, then embracing it and going much further than either he or his opponent had planned. The issue then was extending the franchise to people who did not yet have the vote.

Mr Cameron told me that it was "a hugely bold move - somebody said he took a leap in the dark, he looked round, and then took another one".

Rather like, you might think, agreeing to form a coalition and then to embrace reform of the voting system, the Commons and the Lords.

Tenniel cartoon

Tories worrying that their leader may be risking the unity of their party may not be comforted by his words about another Tory reforming prime minister, Sir Robert Peel. Peel repealed the Corn Laws and split his party down the middle.

Mr Cameron told me:

"It was a classic bit of Tory modernisation... It was a huge change to take on his own party, to take on the vested interest and make the right change for the country. The tragedy was that he split the party in the process, but he did the right thing."

It is not just Mr Cameron's words which are worth another listen. Intriguingly, Nick Clegg - in an interview for the programme on David Lloyd George [scroll to bottom of page] - told me that he regarded as a mistake the great Liberal's determination to continue in peacetime the coalition which took Britain through World War 1.

Lloyd George

Lloyd George had ended up governing without a political base, depending on the Tories for his survival and, therefore, had no protection when things went wrong.

Who says history doesn't repeat itself?

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    What's important isn't necessarily the reform itself, Nick, nor the opinions of Clegg or Cameron.

    The important thing is that the British people get a referendum, as it's entirely up to them to decide.

    I'm hoping that the new government will have learned from New Labour's deceit in such matters (ie Lisbon) and ensure that they do follow through on their promise and give us our say.

  • Comment number 2.

    Electoral reform by the Tories? Their first step was to conspire to change the rules of Parliament by demanding that a 55% majority was needed for them to be sacked! And Nick Clegg, the great missionary for fairness and democracy, happily agreed having just secured a job which he desires to hold for 5 years.
    Jobs for the boys and they don't like to be sacked by anybody. Democracy is welcome only if it suits their power interests, otherwise forget about democracy, they can fix the rules anyway they like it.
    Please read more about this matter in the following Guardian article:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/libertycentral/2010/may/13/55-per-cent-coalition-rule

  • Comment number 3.

    Although not having any formal political education as a youngster, I do recall reading about Benjamin Disraeli and musing to myself, now there is a fellow who is prepared to think-outside-of-the-box.

    That type of political thinking has been sadly lacking in the past decade or so, or maybe more accurately, they were 'thinking the unthinkable' but those infamous forces of conservatism were blocking progress.

    One senses that there now exists a small political window of opportunity.

  • Comment number 4.

    Perhaps he will be inspired by the great Tory reformer Benjamin Disraeli... or perhaps he'll just bring back fox hunting!

  • Comment number 5.

    I tried to play some of the documentaries Nick linked to but the iplayer states they are "not available at this time". Will this be fixed anytime soon?

  • Comment number 6.

    We've been promised a referendum on AV:
    - we might not get one - aren't I a cynic;
    - we might get a 'poisoned' one (one option for 'no' ten for various flavours of AV - to split the vote);
    - we might get one at an inopportune time - during some upheaval when change is scary
    - or we might, just might, get one in a timely manner that enables the British public to choose their voting system fairly.
    Three parties have big gains from the First past the Post system, by my calculations - Conservative, Labour and the DUP.

  • Comment number 7.

    Dear Nick,

    Yes, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have embraced political reform.

    First and foremost to protect themselves from democracy, by conspiring to change the ancient rule of 50% of votes needed for a democratic decision to 55% of votes needed for a parliamentary majority to oust them. Don't believe any of their spin that tries to defend this undemocratic, deceitful proposal. It is a power grab by two well paid, spoiled upperclass boys. Having secured power, they don't like others (let's say the Parliament) have a say in their future.

  • Comment number 8.

    It's more fundamental than that - Cameron is trying to drag his party to the centre against its will in the same way that Blair did.

    At least that is one possibility. But I'm increasingly thinking that perhaps Cameron isn't actually a Tory at all and is instead a Labour sleeper agent: The Etonian Candidate.

  • Comment number 9.

    Just looking at the first actions of the CON-DEM conspiracy government - their new cabinet.

    Surely this was the first opportunity to show 'change' - their much vaunted new efficiency? How about drastically cutting the size of the cabinet and all it's inflated salaries?

    So what exactly does this Baroness Warsi do?

    'Minister without portfolio' ??????

    I'm sure her appointment at tax payer expense, and no apparent job, is entirely unrelated to her race and gender.

    Time for change? This sounds exactly like the worst wasteful behaviour of labour.

  • Comment number 10.

    Is Charles Kennedy still in the country,I haven't seen or heard any comment from him?
    Yes it would be excellent to hear Nick Robinsons documentaries once again!

  • Comment number 11.

    The new government is yet a week old.

    This is a serious discussion and needs serious dabate. Before any referendum or talk or referendum surely we have to wait for the Labour Party to select a new leader and for this leader to have been in posistion sufficient time to add voice to to the debate.

    If, as is suggested this government intends to run for the full term, what is the rush.

    Yes there should be a referendum but it should not be yet a while.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think it was Disraeli who once said "Damn your principles! Stick to your party!"

    Not ideal for coalition politics!

  • Comment number 13.

    What is really pathetic is the surprise expressed by so many people at the self-serving instincts of all our politicians. Meet the new bosses - same as the old boss. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 14.

    I think the 50%/55% thing is a bit of a red herring.

    With a fixed term parliament which will go after 5 years and a coalition where we are looking for stability is asking for slightly more than 50% that much of an issue?

    What is important is that they have offered a vote on it which is something that Labour were loathe to do.

  • Comment number 15.

    The 55% is just the threshold for an automatic no confidence on the failure of a major bill (much lower than the 66% required in Scotland). 50% is still all that is needed for a vote of no confidence. This just means that you can introduce difficult bills and if you lose them someone has to explicitly move a vote of no confidence if the loss of the bill was by a small margin.

    Why don't those on the hysterical side of this argument just grow up. Labour recognise it as a good thing if coalitions were to work in Scotland and what is being introduces in England is a lot weaker.

  • Comment number 16.

    Interesting thoughts Nick. I too had been thinking about the Peelites and where they ended up, but I don't think Cameron is sanctimonious enough to become the new Gladstone! :-)

    But I'd forgotten about Disraeli stealing the Liberals clothes on franchise reform.

    As for Lloyd George, as PM he was worse than Tony Blair. There is no doubt in my mind that his self-belief helped send his party to the wilderness. His relationship with Maundy Gregory was every bit as sleazy as anything in the modern era. Also, the probable murder of Victor Grayson was even more of a scandal than the Dr Kelly affair.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maundy_Gregory

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Grayson

  • Comment number 17.

    I wish the coalition well - the country is in a terrible mess and needs sorting out.

    However, I am alarmed at the idea of the new 55% rule and fixed term governments.

    It's vital that a there is a mechanism to boot out a government if it loses the confidence of the House (or the people). Cameron himself often taunted Brown to call an election - which would be impossible with a fixed term government.

    Stability IS important, but is not the overriding factor. We've just had 13 tears of stable Labour government - and look where that got us!

    China, Russia, North Korea and Iran also have 'stable' governments.

    These new ideas for making it harder to git rid of an unpopular government must be dropped!

    A stable democracy is far more important than a stable government.

  • Comment number 18.

    My turn to say, "Good blog, Mr Robinson."

  • Comment number 19.

    Note to Labour party.

    Mrs T was a blip in the long history of one nation conservatism brought about by the total failure of the post war consensus to face up to economic reality. "Cometh the time cometh the woman", people seem to forget that the NUM, a union with less grip on economic reality than that displayed by BA's unite union, helped bring down first one Conservative government (Ted Heath) followed by the next Labour government.

    Despite this even at it's radical worst Mrs T did not seek to curtail personal liberty as much as the last shower of Labour home secretarys.

    Grow up Dave is not the hate figure Mrs T was

  • Comment number 20.

    55% is the horns of a delema. For a PR system you may even require a higher system to allow it to work.

    but for a FPTP system 50/50 split has been ok in the past.

    it should be that 60% of the parliament should keep the executive in place a much higher threshold than currently required.

    otherwise you could endup looking in a unwanted executive for a long time.

  • Comment number 21.

    People should learn the difference between a vote of no confidence and a dissolution of Parliament before getting all hot under the collar about 55%!

  • Comment number 22.

    Please, please can we stop this outright cynicism about the new government - where appropriate, particularly on policies, yes of course it is needed. Scrutiny will always have a place.

    But please, don't do it just because we have two parties working together - look at that again: two parties working together. We have to believe that there is a chance this can work because the system we have had up till now doesn't.

    Unlike in previous elections, it is almost guaranteed that two of the three parties you'll have voted for are now in power. Without that, what would we have done? Would you prefer that the key issues for both parties never became discussed, with the lesser price we've now paid being the more controversial ideas being shelved?

    Let's hear what they have to say and in many cases see if it works, rather than switch off or shout back just because of who's saying it.

  • Comment number 23.

    Any process should be continually under review... it's the only way to improve.

    Care needs to be taken, though, that any changes make the system more fair for EVERYONE and are not biased in favour of any party large or small.

    Hope the electorate gets a chance for input...

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    4. At 09:04am on 14 May 2010, Poprishchin wrote:

    .....or perhaps he'll just bring back fox hunting!.......

    **********************************

    Watching the madia pack chasing politicians around London this last week, I got the impression he already had! 8-D

  • Comment number 26.

    I believe very strongly in one MP per constituency, so perhaps if we are to change from pure First Past The Post (which I would regret, losing its clear simplicity), the Alternative Vote system would be best.

    Of far far greater importance though are the issues of achieving constituencies of approximately equal number of voters, and of stopping, for instance, Scottish MPs voting on those English (only) matters, where devolution has removed English MPs ability to vote on their equivalents for Scotland.

    Both issues are an obvious affront to fair government, and the status quo surely have no defence. Whatever the other issues with regard to our electorial system, these should be easily and quickly fixed.

  • Comment number 27.

    It's odd how Labour supporters were happy that their party trashed the country whilst never getting near 50% of the vote yet now seem obsessed with this 50/55% issue.

    At least the Conservative/Lib-Dem alliance got 59% of the vote between them.

    And now we have a Government with a mix of the policies of those two parties.

    What's wrong with that? True PR would be unlikley to ever give a majority to one party so every Government would be a compromise coalition. Any other form of PR is just tinkering with the current system to get the best advantage for your party.

  • Comment number 28.

    9

    John wrote

    I'm sure her appointment at tax payer expense, and no apparent job, is entirely unrelated to her race and gender.

    She is very talented, and your comments make you look like a bigot.

  • Comment number 29.

    Nick

    It is one thing to cope with a hung vote and change your thinking and accept the new situation

    But the prospect of bringing in a system that means that one of the least voted for parties ie the LD's will be constantly in coalition government because the system sets an artificial 50% bar is unacceptable.

    The second preference vote will corrupt the result.

    like all voting systems its not the process that matters its the outcome.

    PR, the process is extremely democratic but the outcome is very undemocratic as the small parties decide who governs not the people.

    So we could have a situation where Benjamin Disraeli accepted the correct change for the right reason but Cameron has accepted the wrong change for the right reason.

    Its still the wrong change.

  • Comment number 30.

    Cameron is a very knowledgeable political historian, and Disraeli is Cameron's political hero

    Don't underestimate the role of Osborne in this though

    Clegg will live and fall on his actions over the next parliament

    Between them, they have already taken the centre ground, as I wrote yesterday and Labour go left or look like a pale version of the coalition

    Breathtaking move by Cameron, rather like a military move from Alexander

  • Comment number 31.

    PS - further to my 10:06 comment, #26 - I well understand the well-intentioned purpose in these specific circumstances of raising the No Confidence threshold to 55%, but, with our unwritten constitution, changing such fundamental things is bad in principle.

    It sets an appalling precedent to which a badly intentioned government could point to further raise the threshold - if 55% is O.K., why not 66.6% or 80%??

    No - it must surely stay at 50% - if a Government (even a Coalition one) can't hold the confidence of a simple majority of the House of Commons, it should go - its as simple as that.

  • Comment number 32.

    13. At 09:44am on 14 May 2010, Caledonian Comment wrote:
    What is really pathetic is the surprise expressed by so many people at the self-serving instincts of all our politicians. Meet the new bosses - same as the old boss. Caledonian Comment


    Why are you so bitter about everything?

  • Comment number 33.

    16

    David Kelly

    Will the truth ever come out?

  • Comment number 34.

    DistantTraveller @ 17 wrote: However, I am alarmed at the idea of the new 55% rule and fixed term governments.

    It is still (as I understand) 50% on an explicit vote of no confidence. The threshold is on the margin by which failure to pass a difficult piece of major legislation becomes an automatic vote of no confidence.

  • Comment number 35.

    So far this all looks encouraging.

    The main figures in the Tory and LD parties are singing from the same sheet. They have eccepted collective repsonsibility by taking the 5 percent cut. They've made some initial sensible proposals, such as getting rid of ID cards. They seem to be seriously addressing the long term fiscal and financial issues, and getting us ready for bad times.

    They must be doing it right, because the usual suspects are on here complaining about what's going on. I look forward to another 5 years of this, and then another 5 years after that....

  • Comment number 36.

    8. At 09:22am on 14 May 2010, APbbforum wrote:

    .............But I'm increasingly thinking that perhaps Cameron isn't actually a Tory at all and is instead a Labour sleeper agent: The Etonian Candidate...........

    ******************************

    Of course what many people forget is that one of Labour's most respected MP's, the now retired, Sir Thomas Dalyell Loch, 11th Baronet - Tam Dalyell, was an Eton scholar. Wonder what his thoughts are on the 'Tory Toff' comments.
    Also , until this last election, Labour's Mark Fisher was another well known Eton old boy.

  • Comment number 37.

    17

    I disagree completely with you on this

    Due to Brown's dithering, nothing has been done to deal with economic crisis for months

    Indeed the Public Sector employed 7000 more people between September 2009 and December 2009

    The ONLY option for a stable government was this coalition

    I prefer fixed spending reviews to fixed parliaments, although now, we need one

    Otherwise any other solution would have lead to another election and more delay in resolving our economic difficulties

    It may not be perfect, well it isn't perfect, yet it is the best that could be done

    What would you have done instead?

  • Comment number 38.

    A lot of commentators have vehemently pointed out that Scottish and Welsh parliamentary systems have a two thirds requirement for a vote of no confidence. Which is true... but the electoral system is also different as well.

    We have system which sees a constituency MSP elected under first past the post followed by a regional top up where the votes cast for the other parties are not merely discounted but can actually elect the MSP for the party or individual they were cast.

    As a result rather than having 3 parties like Westminster the Scottish and Welsh parliaments can have a number of parties representing many views. The largest are of course the SNP and Labour followed by the Lib Dems and Tories and the Greens (there are also other parties and independents who have also been elected). Given the voting system it is highly unlikely that If one party becomes truly isolated within the Scottish Parliament they on the whole couldn't command enough votes to survive a no confidence motion.

    In Westminster the Tories already have over 45% of the seats on their own requiring only 292 (currently 306). I have heared that the opposition only require over 50% so what is stopping any disaffected Tories or Lib Dems asking the opposition to lay the motion rather than doing it themselves. To implement this measure it has to be all or nothing and that would be disastrous for parliamentary democracy and has more than a whiff of skulduggery and an example that politicians in Westminster have their own self interests in mind and have not changed



  • Comment number 39.

    When Germans vote in national elections, they can be reasonably sure that the FDP will go into coalition with the CDU and CSU, if this would form a viable government. There was outrage when in 1982, the FDP moved from supporting the SPD to the CDU/CSU.

    Effective democracy requires that voters should know what they are voting for before the election. The Liberal Democrats consistently refused to tell us who they would form a coalition with. If they wish to be regarded as a party which believes in democracy, they should insist that approval is sought from the voters for the coalition arrangements, perhaps by another election in the autumn.

    Cameron appears to believe that the more democratic option of a minority government would not have been able to push through the reforms that he believes are necessary in the national interest. This is exactly the excuse that dictators give for refusing to seek democratic approval.

    Many people will regard the process by which this coalition government came into being as fraudulent. This will be remembered when the going gets tough, and David Cameron may well learn, that his government is not as stable and secure as he hopes, as defections whittle away its majority.

  • Comment number 40.

    Good. At least most people are being positive about this government the outgoing prime minister, who served the shortest term of any Labour prime minister, was a millstone around our necks.
    I have this feeling we have cast off the shackles and but are joined in a kind of freedom crusade with more than just a nod to the past.

    It is through the past that we shape the present. And the present which will shape the future.

    There is a great deal of goodwill and love out here (apart from the angry faced chip on their shoulder Labour activists who know nothing other than Labour), so onward we go on a wing and a prayer.

    We must all now be positive and sustain this new government which had the most inauspicious of beginnings and faces the most onerous of tasks, War, Huge Deficit and Immigration. These are the three key issues on which the people voted. These immense problems social and economic were probably too huge for a minority government so united we stand.

  • Comment number 41.

    It was Disraeli who defined the One Nation Conservative idea as `keep what is old and good and change what is old and bad'.

    Up until Keith Joseph this was the Tory ideal. The Sir Keith and his friend Margaret adopted a more ideolgical `free market' position. This was the same position as adopted by Edward Heath after Selsdon but abandoned when Rolls Royce went bust. Hence the very ideological statement of Thatcher that the lady is not for turning.

    I think we have to be sensible in understanding political ideology: it is not an accurate statement of reality, it is an ideal, an aspiration that will if relatively successful on paper collide with reality and become something else.

    Is this an end of ideology argument, or, is it a realisation that no existing political ideology can fit our circumstances? I reckon it is the latter and those who are funmbling about trying to define our current situation within an ideological framework are just not going to achieve their objective.

    This government is pragmatism written large. It could even become technocratic! Perhaps an ideal situation for the heir to Blair. So long as he doesn't run around starting wars and spending everyone's money on trivia then Cameron can only be an improvement. If he remains pragmatic and steers the nation into calmer waters, extracts us from mad foreign ventures started by his predecessors, and brings fiscal equilibrium to our country then he will have earned our mutual respect.

    Then the likes of you, Nick, will run around talking about Cameronism. Don't be daft: it will be our dear old friend One Nation back with a vengeance. If you want to know what that was then it was Willie Whitelaw. You could disagree with the man but he took no offence, he just did his best in an honest way. You cannot do better than that as a politician in my view. This does rather put the catastrophic freneticism of New Labour into perspective.

    We tend to view the last thirteen years as what politics is about. No, it wasn't. It was a disaster from word go: the longest running car crash in modern British history.

  • Comment number 42.

    I'm getting the impression that while Cameron and Clegg are trying to 'steady the ship' in preparation for a hard, probably unpalatable, five years of work to salvage as much as they can of the good ship Brittania, Labour, and its supporters, want to sink it as quickly as possible in order to get back and continue their reckless 'tomorrow never comes' spending spree.

    Or could it be that there are some 'buried bodies' waiting to be revealed that they'd rather we didn't know about?

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.

    I have just been to the No 10 website The official site of the Prime Minister’s Office in order to start an e- petition against the Governments undemocratic plan to introduce a law that would increase from 50% plus one vote to 55% the number of votes needed to remove the Government from power. The note on the website says "The new administration is currently assessing how best to proceed with the e-petitions service. We will update users as soon as practicable". So what is the problem letting this site continue in operation at the present time and letting the masters (us) tell our servants (the Government ) how we feel using today's instant technology ? Or if this just another way to silence its critics!

  • Comment number 45.

    Half these Labour activists and paid socialist bloggers do not remember in their lifetimes, as I do ten serving Prime Ministers and their governments.

    Unfortunately a lot of angry young (mostly men) are brainwashed into socialism by universities. If they were at work they would probably be a bit more disciplined and evenly balanced.

    When you leave school if you are not clever enough to go to university then you should roll up your sleeves and go to work straight away. It is through work that you understand YOURSELF and from that stems self esteem and a willingness to contribute and not keep thinking "what is there for me, what am I owed"?

  • Comment number 46.

    12. At 09:43am on 14 May 2010, DistantTraveller wrote:

    I think it was Disraeli who once said "Damn your principles! Stick to your party!"

    Not ideal for coalition politics!


    >>

    No. More appropriate would be the Groucho Marx line: "Well those are my principles. If you don't like them … I have others."

  • Comment number 47.

    Whoops! I totally agree with 14 - exiledscot52. There is no rush to vote on this. The labour party should take plenty of time to select a new leader as they are in such a wilderness at the moment. We need a decisive government who will take us through the next few years. I feel deeply for this government as it will be in such a lonely position with the decisions it knows it has to make. Most of the country will start to pull behind them I am sure but there will always be those who cannot stomach the austerity we will all have to go through and on top of that they will have a Labour party oppoistion bent on destroying them just so they can force another election. What good is that going to do for the country. If we have a fixed term of five years at least this coalition will have the opportunity to start the climb out of the mire. We are truly in a progressive position now and I think Britain should learn to embrace that. Our greatest Prime Ministers took us through very serious reform and put their reputation on the line to do it because they believed totally in the big picture of the future of this country. Let our new leaders be given the chance to see more reform go through. Labour had 13 years to put reform in place but did not take that opportunity.

  • Comment number 48.

    Mrs Thatcher is obvioulsy on some people's minds. Can I remind the blog that Mrs Thatcher was overwhelmingly voted in in 1979 because the country was desperate for a strong and capable leader. She was right for her time. She was a mover and shaker and took some very tough decisions. The fact that she upset many of the labour stronghold just proves how important her impact on the country was. I certainly was able to improve my situation and that of my family through hard work and self belief under her reign. Something I could never have done under Labour. Everything that young people were able to achieve if they so wanted was down to her. It was their choice whether or not they wanted to move around the social ladder. BUT you had to work hard!!!! Now we seem to work hard just to stand still - because of a very weak leadership.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    29. At 10:15am on 14 May 2010, PortcullisGate wrote:

    ....... PR, the process is extremely democratic but the outcome is very undemocratic as the small parties decide who governs not the people.
    ------------------
    And after all the Conservatives gave away SO much in forming this Government. They abandoned all principle and took on board the manifesto of the Lib Dem's *UNALTERED*

    Apart from those parts of the Lib Dem manifesto that people have accused them of selling out on.
    The "Small Parties Decide" which is heard so often simply does not stack up. In reality it's the "Flexible Parties" who decide. If they can reach consensus then they may be in a position to form a working government. The Tories dug their heels in over certain principles, Labour was unmoving on certain things, the Lib Dems felt that they couldn't yield on others. An in all that mix, there was a partnership to be found (possibly an uneasy one but it was found!)

    And if that agreement acknowledges differences of opinion and undertakes to embrace and work through those differences, how is that a breach of democracy?

  • Comment number 51.

    I can't get very excited about 55% v 50%. My preference, if we're going to move to fixed term governments, would be to eliminate the whole notion of votes of confidence altogether. After all, the US President, Senate and House of Representatives are all required to serve out their respective terms. The problem is that fixed-term has consequences that haven't been fully thought through or explained to (and then voted on by) the electorate at large.

    What I'd like to hear more on from Nick is his reading of the implications of a directly elected House of Lords, possibly (if I've understood correctly) on a PR basis.

  • Comment number 52.

    After only 1 day of this absolute disgrace of a coalition, here are my adrenalin fuelled rants:

    1. a 5% pay cut for the cabinet...well let's have a whip round for the impoverished soles....why not a 20% or 30% or 50% pay cut or take no salary at all for 12 months to show they are in this with us..none of them are hardly impoverished and this would be a real gesture, especially when in the next breath they will be cutting the salaries of public sector workers on 15k..and imposing public sector pay freezes.

    2. the Bill to set out that 55% of MPs required to bring about a vote of no confidence..this gives the Libs absolutely nothing...it means that even if Cameron and his Etonian elites renege on all their promises to the Lib Dems and/or the country is in meltdown...the Lib Dems and the rest of the parties can do nothing about it for 5 years...do the maths...with 305 seats and 46% of the seats..this means that the rest of the parties can only ever get 54%...close but no Cheese says Wavy Davy Cameron...Tories in for full 5 years...champage corks popping at the next 1922 Committe meeting....what an absolute disgrace...when did we suddenly sign up to this dictatorship under Cameron...this is absolutely nothing to do with giving stability to the Coalition...this is all about guaranteeing that a minority of 305 Tory MPs remain in power for 5 years...be afraid...be very afraid..at least Judas got 30 pieces of silver to spend on new sandals Cleggy babes..

    3. on the upside the Lib Dems did do v.well in concessions in return for propping up this Tory autocracy and selling out to Cameron and his wealthy white male, middle aged priveleged colleagues; lets look at what the Libs got in terms of social concessions;

    A.powerful & meaningful jobs on the cabinets...oh hang on, no they didn't....I don't think Sec of State for Pencils nor Deputy Minister for Nice Thoughts really count;

    B.surely they therefore got huge policy concessions from the Tories:

    1.Voting reform and introducing a PR voting system- oops, hang on.. only a referendum only on AV you say, and the Tories will be actively (with their swollen coffers) be campaigning and voting against;

    2.Scrapping Trident - I remember only last June the Cleggster being all smug when he announced that The Liberal Democrats were to be the first mainstream party to declare they will not renew Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent system. I will bet my last Sheckel that Nickster definitely said to the Guardian that he was making the move because of the "rapidly deteriorating public finances and because the case for such a powerful nuclear deterrent in the post-cold war world was “a complete fiction”....what...he is now fully behind the Tories' Trident renewal policy...OK my ears are bleeding now;

    3. No Nuclear Power Stations- oh hang on..they didn't get this either but I have a copy here of one their anti-nuclear power petition forms from last year..it says...."Say no to new nuclear plants, Liberal Democrats want Gordon Brown to scrap plans to build more nuclear power plants. Nuclear power is hugely expensive. They cost millions to build and it then costs millions to clean up their waste. By the time the new generation of nuclear plants come on line, we could have invested the money in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects so we wouldn’t even need them. Every person in the UK is paying £1,500 to clean up the waste from the last 50 years. Imagine how much more it will cost us if we have more nuclear power.
    Sign our petition! We, the undersigned, support the Liberal Democrat campaign to stop the building of new nuclear power plants...but you say that the Libs are now supporting the building on new nuclear power plants..oh. OK, if you say so
    ;
    4.Ah but surely they did get their immigration stuff through...sorry, what was that? They didn't...but their policy briefing last year said the following: "Liberal Democrats believe it would
    be wrong to try and “pull up the drawbridge” on immigrants. Britain has always been an open, welcoming, country, and thousands of businesses, schools and hospitals rely on people who’ve come to live here from overseas...We would allow people who have been in Britain for 10 years, speak English, have a clean record and want to live here long-term to earn citizenship"....now you're telling me they have agreed to the Tories pulling up the drawbridge and capping Immigration...oh OK never mind..let's move on;

    5.But the good news is that their moderate Social Democratic, centre left politics has at least trumped the Tory plans to decimate the public sector and throw millions of hard working nurses, teachers, civil servants and public sector workers on the scrap heap before the Summer holidays kick in...oh, they didn't get this either;...Ah, I've got you on this one... I am now quoting directly from the Lib Dems actual manifesto that they campaigned upon and won seats on: our aim is "To boost the economy and create jobs for those who need them, we will begin our term of office with a one-year economic stimulus and job creation package.."...what, you can prove that this is in George Osborne's shredder bin too?

    6. What about the Lib Dems seeking a speedy withdrawal of our hard-working troops from Afghanistan, so no more mothers, fathers, wives, children have to bury their loved ones...nope, you say..

    So what did the Cleggies actually get out of this deal then? Oh, they get driven around in nice, petrol guzzling, eco-destroying 5 litre Jaguar cars now instead of having to ride their bikes and catch public transport and after 70 years of pilitical irrelevancy get to pretend to be in power...bit of a winner then!!??They'd better make sure that their 57 MPs enjoy it while they can because it will be the last time they will have this opportunity as their grass roots support rapidly disappears down the toilet

  • Comment number 53.

    I think Baroness Warsi is Party Chair, but I could be wrong.

  • Comment number 54.

    Nick, everything that we do is part of history, so why try to build molehills out of what went before?

    Successes are historic, and might never get repeated. Mistakes are historic, and we should be clever enough to avoid them next time round. Of course people repsonsible for success should get rewards, including the opportunity to repeat, whilst failure need to be punished, including being refused the opportunity to repeat their folly.

    Seems perfcetly fair and reasonable to me, and I'm sure ole saga would agree with that.

  • Comment number 55.

    39. At 10:32am on 14 May 2010, stanblogger wrote:


    ..........This is exactly the excuse that dictators give for refusing to seek democratic approval..........

    **************************

    Are you, by any chance, referring to Labour's intention to 'force through PR without a referendum' if they had formed a coalition?

  • Comment number 56.

    39. At 10:32am on 14 May 2010, stanblogger wrote:

    When Germans vote in national elections, they can be reasonably sure that the FDP will go into coalition with the CDU and CSU, if this would form a viable government. There was outrage when in 1982, the FDP moved from supporting the SPD to the CDU/CSU.

    Effective democracy requires that voters should know what they are voting for before the election. The Liberal Democrats consistently refused to tell us who they would form a coalition with. If they wish to be regarded as a party which believes in democracy, they should insist that approval is sought from the voters for the coalition arrangements, perhaps by another election in the autumn.
    ---------------------------------
    And by declaring a prospective partner, what possible hope of negotiation would the Lib Dems have had. You may not like the tactics - or is it the result that's unacceptable? - but had Nick Clegg taken any other approach then he really would be the prop to another party in government. This way he has secured movement from the Tories - movement that Labour would not agree to.
    Another election in the autumn? The country can ill afford the expense and although it may upset many to face the face, this government is validly constituted.

  • Comment number 57.

    Fox hunting: Your memories are short. I remember the months and months of Blair's deliberating on the subject. How much time and resources did he waste on it just to assuage the beardy weirdy looney lefties and the cloth capped chips-on-their-shoulders core Lab voters?

    Conversely I doubt if this government will spend months and months and huge resources on the cloth-capped brigade's choice of fighting dogs and fighting each other in the street type sports.

    This government have a country to run.

  • Comment number 58.


    Democracy - interesting lets test that... Freedom... Liberty...

    Robin Rowlands (the vigilant and virtous)
    Guildford, Surrey.

  • Comment number 59.

    26 graham

    "Whatever the other issues with regard to our electorial system, these should be easily and quickly fixed."

    Graham not so sure. Prior to the election DC declared Number of MP's to be lowered to 500 from 650. This will also require legislation voted through by MP's 150 of whom would be out of a job as a result.

    I'm personally against reducing the number of MP's when the only arguement appears to be cost related. Reducing the number of MP's would also spoil a lot of the calculations posted on here.

  • Comment number 60.

    44. In reviewing the No. 10 Petitions site the new government are sifting through the volumes of petitions to the last incumbent most of which were not adequately addressed, to see what their problems were.

    You will find the facility available again once this has been done.

  • Comment number 61.

    33. Kevinb wrote:

    16
    David Kelly
    Will the truth ever come out?


    And still no word about the DPP's review of Tomlinson or unresolved cases of deaths in police custody or from police shootings. Disgusting for a 1st world democracy. It'll be interesting to see if the coalition lives up to its rhetoric on civil liberties and justice or if the tail will continue to wag the dog.

  • Comment number 62.

    28. At 10:13am on 14 May 2010, Kevinb wrote:

    (re. Baroness Warsi - minister without portfolio)

    "9

    John wrote

    I'm sure her appointment at tax payer expense, and no apparent job, is entirely unrelated to her race and gender.

    She is very talented, and your comments make you look like a bigot."
    ====================================

    So what does she do in the cabinet then?

    How about Oliver Letwin - 'MINISTER OF STATE AT CABINET OFFICE, POLICY' What does that do? Have we had one of those before? Or is it just to create a job for another old Etonian?

    All sounds a bit like the 'equality coordinator' type posts they are talking about scrapping accross the labour organised public sector.

    Actions talk louder than words. More jobs for the boys (and girls) just like the last lot. When is all this 'efficiency' going to apply to themselves?


    ('Bigot'???? I seem to remember you lot jumping on Brown for using that term about someone who disagreed with him. I thought this new government was going to be a time for change?)

  • Comment number 63.

    The 55% rule makes no difference as voters only need a 37% rule to vote them out when their 5 year term is up.

    It just gives the coalition 5 years to show us if their policies work.

    There's also the knock-on effect that if this five year term is not amazingly brilliant, the Conservatives ( and the Lib-Dems) may have a long wait before they get into power again if ever.

    As per usual with politics it's a case of wait and see.

  • Comment number 64.

    Calm down dear! Read this:

    Serenity Prayer

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Could put Nick R out of a job!

  • Comment number 65.

    48 anji
    'Mrs Thatcher is obviously on some people's minds.'

    Get over it, anji! She ain't coming back!

  • Comment number 66.

    39. I liken Brown in his desperate last hours clinging onto power as a sort of Robert Mugabe.

    "We lost the election but we have the right to remain in power" a coup arranged by Alastair Campbell, Lord Adonis and Lord Mandelson - NONE OF WHOM WERE ELECTED BY THE BRITISH PEOPLE - end of story.


  • Comment number 67.

    52. At 11:03am on 14 May 2010, karl nicholas wrote:

    After only 1 day of this absolute disgrace of a coalition, here are my adrenalin fuelled rants:
    ------------------------
    And reasoned sensible discussion is where....?

    I can be sceptical of things written in Wikipedia - but I offer the following.......

    A rant is a speech or text that does not present a calm argument; rather, it is typically an enthusiastic speech or talk or lecture on an idea, a person or an institution. Compare with a dialectic.

    In some cases, rants can be based on partial fact or may be entirely factual but written in a comedic/satirical form. A well known example of comedic yet factual form is RANT Magazine from which television's The Daily Show is based.[citation needed]

    Rants can also be used in the defense of an individual, idea or organization. Rants of this type generally occur after the subject has been attacked by another individual or group.

    OR

    Dialectic (also called dialectics or the dialectical method) is a method of argument, which has been central to both Eastern and Western philosophy since ancient times. The word "dialectic" originates in Ancient Greece, and was made popular by Plato's Socratic dialogues. Dialectic is based on a dialogue between two or more people who hold different ideas and wish to persuade each other. This is in contrast to rhetoric, which is discourse conducted by a single person. Different forms of dialectical reason have emerged in the East and in the West, as well as during different eras of history (see below). Among the major forms of dialectic reason are Socratic, Hindu, Buddhist, Medieval, Hegelian, Marxist, and Talmudic.

    So... Do you wish to persuade people to your point or not?

  • Comment number 68.

    no 52 above is a good reason for these blogs to be restricted in content, (a more articulate person would be able to make their point in a far more concise way), and for some people to go back to school and learn to spell perhaps.

  • Comment number 69.

    Concerning the porposed new 55% dissolution of Parliament rule:

    The question seems to be: does a 50% +1 vote of no confidence still exist and what consequences would a sucessful no confidence vote have?

    Would a defeated David Cameron continue to squad in No 10 having lost a vote of no confidence?

    Could a new government be formed and a new Prime Minister be installed after a successful no confidence vote without dissolving Parliament?

    Dear Nick (Robinson), given that you are the resident political analyst here and are featured as an expert, could you please answer these questions backed up by facts?
    Also, would you be delighted to answer these crucial questions without fearing to fall out of favour with your new best friends, David Cameron and his deputy, Nick Clegg?

  • Comment number 70.

    50. At 10:59am on 14 May 2010, CynicallyPreserved wrote:
    29. At 10:15am on 14 May 2010, PortcullisGate wrote:

    the small parties decide who governs not the people.
    ------------------
    the "Lib Dems felt" that they couldn't yield on others.

    Third Party made decision on who governed because "couldn't yield on others"

    Who gave them this power when they came third?

    They publicly beheaded a man that got more votes and seats than them.

    If think this is a democratic outcome then I can't help you.

    It is a rare perverse outcome of FPTP but would be the nailed on outcome of every election to come.

    I would rather suffer it rarely not forever.

    I can see why it would appeal to a Lib Dem but to the rest of use that does not equate to in the national interest.

  • Comment number 71.

    Nick

    can we have some clarification on this 55% dissolution issue?

    Is it true that Labour brought in the same rule in Scotland only the level was over 60%

  • Comment number 72.

    To TheBlameGame

    Apologies if carrying over from the last thread is considered poor form - but as you asked a question in the final post

    "And should we now see one of the Tory/LibDem spots vacated for more regular appearances of the minority parties?"

    I have no issue with that at all - Bring on BNP so that they can be confronted and shown for what they are. Bring on UKIP - it will warm the hearts of Tories who find this coalition unacceptable. Bring on the Greens - so that they may be pressed on issues where the Climate Change science has been bruised.

    I have no personal preference for any of the above, I am not personally affected by the policies and activities of SNP or PC. While I don't live there, I do have a hope that Northern Ireland holds true in the peace process - and much as I despair when I hear the partisan rants from either side, I know that every day that they talk is a day that they don't spend shooting.

    If that means that I'm label a democrat then I'll carry that stigma with me ;-)
    I've been called far worse than that in my time!

  • Comment number 73.

    Welcome to the new prime minister of England as he makes his first official visit to Scotland. Message from the prime minister of Scotland: we want our money back. He is referring to the Scottish fossil-fuel-levy funds that the government in England is holding on to. £700,000,000 or so, one understands, and change. And that is just for starters.

    Mr Cameron says that he wants to respect Scotland. Mr Salmond will explain to him how to go about that. One can but hope that he will pay attention.

    As for constititional reform, Mr Salmond will doubtless explain what is required there too. Abolition or at least reform of the House of Lords, electoral reform and fiscal autonomy for Scotland. It is all going to have to come sooner or later, anyway. Mr Cameron might as well get on with it, if he can.

  • Comment number 74.

    28. At 10:13am on 14 May 2010, Kevinb wrote:

    9

    John wrote

    I'm sure her appointment at tax payer expense, and no apparent job, is entirely unrelated to her race and gender.

    She is very talented, and your comments make you look like a bigot.


    Political Correctness gone mad

  • Comment number 75.

    51. At 11:01am on 14 May 2010, Mark wrote:
    I can't get very excited about 55% v 50%. My preference, if we're going to move to fixed term governments, would be to eliminate the whole notion of votes of confidence altogether. After all, the US President, Senate and House of Representatives are all required to serve out their respective terms. The problem is that fixed-term has consequences that haven't been fully thought through or explained to (and then voted on by) the electorate at large.

    What I'd like to hear more on from Nick is his reading of the implications of a directly elected House of Lords, possibly (if I've understood correctly) on a PR basis.

    =======================================================

    I want to know who the BNP Lords will be

    Or even better who will be the Monster Raving Loony Party's Lord.

    No one as ever answered their question

    "Why is there only one Monopolies commision"

  • Comment number 76.

    In light of the coming necessary cuts in spending, and a heavily right-wing press who are not in favour of the coalition at all, especially considering the concession given to the Lib-Dems over political reform. It is extremely likely that we will shortly see the press whipping up campaigns over every attempt to cut public spending. I watched question Time last night and Melanie Phillips' arguments, whilst lucid and erudite, were increasingly irrational and negative. She would rather see another election called immediately (which would happen if Cameron had tried to push the Tory manifesto through with a minority Govt.)than give the coalition any chance to even settle in. I suspect that she's more worried about Cameron's reform of the Tories (away from the far-right who make up the majority of her readership) towards the centre, coupled with Lib-Dem support in the areas where their policies overlap really scares her. Adult politics where party lines are blurred and consideration given to the effects of legislation on the electorate must put the fear of god into the tabloids. A large degree of media influence on Govt. policy has been stripped away, bu this coalition. Their influence over the more right wing arm of the Tories has been neutered by the fact that they have been sidelined. They have no influence over LD (following their frenzied anti-LD, anti-reform and anti-coalition "reportage" during the elections). This will be the first Govt. since Maggie Thatcher where the tail won't wag the dog. Furthermore, if the coalition succeeds and the electoral reform gets through the referendum, we will see the end of the media creating news stories and a return to reporting. I foresee referenda becoming far more frequent in future and this will fundamentally alter the way the Press will operate. They will no longer be the "self-appointed guardians" of Britains Morality etc. as politicians can now turn to us to find out what we think. The next parliamentary session will see a big reduction in yah boo politics inside the house and the media which tries to promulgate politics on party lines without analysis of policy will find itself increasingly irrelevant. The Daily Mail are the real losers of this election, their support base within the Tory party has lost it's influence in shaping policy, there's currently no "enemy" to attack (Labour in disarray and Lib-Dems are partners) and they're suffering because they cannot find a successful economic model that can cope with the internet. Oh dear, maybe they'll have to do some research and practice some real journalism rather than just "making it up". Referenda also force journalists to form a constructive argument for a particular policy rather than just "snipe" from the sidelines.

  • Comment number 77.

    , JohnConstable wrote:
    Bryers @ 526 et al

    "I too predict a rising unemployment, falling tax revenue and an increase in the deficit, too and I suspect that Mervyn King also does but would never say it.
    The difference between our positions is that I do not think it will become a self-fufilling spiral, a death-spiral, as economist David Blanchflower has gloomily stated but will presage a recovery.
    I think that this is an area where the relatively new branch of economics, namely, behavioural economics, comes into play.
    Very roughly, as I am time-pressured today, if people believe that there must be some kind of way out of here, then it will happen."

    I didn`t realize faith was a branch of economics.When I was taught,the plethora of market behaviour and macro economics was understood as the unintended consequence of millions of individual decisions.

    There are two hard principles of political analysis which avoid the sentimentalizing of power: The first is being there,-the politics of absence from a decision,a meeting,even a chance encounter deserves a tome to itself.The second:-It is not what people think that matters but what they do.Forget the mush of ideology,look at policy on the ground and ask who gets what,how much they get and when.



  • Comment number 78.

    An interesting blog Nick. There seems to be a lot of misinformation and uninformed conjecture appearing surrounding the proposed new 55% dissolution rule. I confess to not understanding it fully myself. Could you perhaps write a blog detailing the facts on this issue?

  • Comment number 79.

    Nick,I have read this morning that Camerons aim to extend to a fixed term of a government also involves the situation where a government is defeated in a major vote in the House. I read that he intends to put a figure of 55% of any such vote being needed to force a defeat on the government. This greatly disturbs me as surely as things are at the moment represents a fundamental part of our constitution. it makes me wonder what orther things will show up within his planned policies.If memory serves me right I think Wilson was defeated in the House by one vote ,was forced to resign, resulting in Heath winning the subsequent election.
    Have you any views on this Nick?

  • Comment number 80.


    DA Notice ( Stephen Fry / Robin Rowlands )

    Do I take it - that we and the press - are now free to speak out

    Robin Rowlands (the vigilant and virtous)
    Guildford, Surrey.

  • Comment number 81.

    33. Kevinb wrote:
    16

    #David Kelly
    Will the truth ever come out?

    Is that a serious suggestion that the truth has not come out?.Is anyone seriously suggesting that some government department actually went to visit Dr Kelly and said lets go for a stroll along the path that you usually take, then when they arrived at a chosen spot they sat him down then cut the arteries in his wrist, waited until he bled to death then nonchalantly walked off in the hope that no one had seen any of this.

    That is the lie that needs to be questioned not the truth as established by a very fine police force.

  • Comment number 82.

    Nick

    I can't help but feel that appeasing the Lib Dem by tackling some of the more slippery issues is going to bring down some ridicule on the coalitions head.


    As I flippantly mention above

    Who is going to be the Monster Raving loony Party's Lord after the upper house is elected by PR.

    Its one of the most wonderfully perverse outcomes and I don't want any of them to fiddle the rules so it can't happen

    In fact if AV comes in I think everyone who votes should give their second vote to MRLP the vision of the official opposition being the Loony's makes me glow inside.

  • Comment number 83.

    The actual wording of the agreement is this:
    "The parties agree to the establishment of five year fixed-term parliaments. A Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government will put a binding motion before the House of Commons in the first days following this agreement stating that the next general election will be held on the first Thursday of May 2015. Following this motion, legislation will be brought forward to make provision for fixed term parliaments of five years. This legislation will also provide for dissolution if 55% or more of the House votes in favour."
    The 55% refers to the dissolution of parliament - not a vote of no-confidence. It would therefore be possible to have a vote of no confidence in the government and the government to change without an election. This is what happens in Scotland, Wales and every single council in the UK and is a natural consequence of having fixed-term parliaments.

  • Comment number 84.

    At 09:36am on 14 May 2010, TheBlameGame wrote:
    501. bryhers wrote:

    "It has never been a question of what I like.My judgements are policy driven.That is they rest on a calculus of risk and benefit."
    And never a hint of bias... :)

    A bias towards basing my judgements on the best knowledge available.What do you do?


  • Comment number 85.

    To those ranting about the 55% rule, that is about dissolution, not votes of no confidence.

    Currently losing a vote of no confidence - at a simple majority - forces the PM to resign. That would not change.

    But currently the PM has the option to call an election if that happens, or indeed, if he/she just feels like it at any other time. The change would be to remove that power from the PM and give it to parliament, requiring a supermajority to do so (since in a fixed term system, there should be a bias towards stability - it's not very fixed otherwise).

    A successful vote of no confidence would still force the PM to resign, allowing the opposition to form a new majority, if they could. It does not allow the government to stay in power any more than they could before.

  • Comment number 86.

    Nick Robinson - interesting last line of your piece? "Who says history doesn't repeat itself"? Well, it does in war, but this current coalition is about politically savvy voters telling politicians they are fed up with extreme policies and partisan political parties with vested interests that disregard what the people want?

    Plus, voters in the 21st century - men and women; rich or poor have the equal right to vote.

    However, the majority of the people during Disraeli/Gladstone times were NOT allowed to vote at all?

    Finally, the Conservatives are challenged to look at themselves and rethink some of their lord/peasant attitudes with the Liberal Democrats breathing down their bespoke shirted necks?

    In addition, personally am delighted that the highly intelligent Baroness Warsi is in the Cabinet. An independent minded and moderate Muslim woman - wow! Now that's political progress!



  • Comment number 87.

    #44. markdpryan wrote:
    I have just been to the No 10 website The official site of the Prime Minister’s Office in order to start an e- petition [...] So what is the problem letting this site continue in operation at the present time [...]

    The e-petition facility was taken down as soon as the election was announced so technically it's not a matter of 'letting it continue' but of deciding if and when it is to be switched back on.

    My guess is somehow or other the present Government will have more, not less of an interest in what the electorate thinks. They might not bring e-petitions back at all and instead introduce some form of a more dynamic or interactive service with debates and polls or whatever. Who knows?

    But I'm not going to jump onto the bandwagon of the folks jumping at every tiny opportunity to say 'Ha! See? Told you this coalition was undemocratic!"

    BDd

  • Comment number 88.

    Nick, I'm amazed that the fact that the ruling parties are proposing fixed term elections which can only be dissolved with support from 55% of MPs is being swept under the carpet by the media.

    This is a flagrant breach of democtratic liberties. The protests and violence in Bangkok has been sparked by something similar to this. If the media were to do their job properly and report more effectively on what this means for the country, maybe the population would be equally disgusted (though hopefully less violent.)

    Please look into this highly disconcerting proposal so that we may fully understand it and the possible repurcussions.

  • Comment number 89.

    Some Labour/Lib Dems could be kidding themselves if they expected anything other than this coalition to happen. Not so long ago, Labour was on track to be slaughtered at this election and the Conservatives would have got a massive majority on their own. Now we have the Conservatives with the Lib Dems as a moderating influence. At first glance, it looks bit like New Labour. I'm glad the lib dems have been given influential positions, but not positions like the chancellor of the exchequer. The Lib Dems will be able to help but Osborne will be responsible(once they can't blame Labour anymore) if/when things start to go bad. I'm in wait and see mode at the moment. if this electoral reform turns out to be a con, then I'll be back to normal.

    Dont assume the Lib Dem votes were rightfully Labours. Some might have voted Conservative and others mightn't have voted at all. Possibly giving more seats to the Conservatives.

  • Comment number 90.

    @48 Anji

    Please check your history. In 1979 Mrs T got 43.9% of the vote, and 53.4% of the seats.

    If you think that this constitutes being "overwhelmingly elected", your definition of the word "overwhelming" is different from mine, or from the dictionary's.

    In her "landslide" victory of 1983, she only got 42.4% of the vote: a lower turnout meaning 600 000 votes less. Compare this with Eden and Attlee's % votes of 49.7 in 1955 and 1945 respectively.

    The truth is that, since the war, no governing party has had a an absolute majority of the popular vote, let alone an overwhelming one.

    The country has been, and remains, divided. The new government will start with a certain amount of goodwill from the general public. Its fate will then be in its own hands.



  • Comment number 91.

    Can some of the people on here get a grip about the 55% issue - they are either being thick or deliberately obtuse. The Government will still resign if it loses a vote of no confidence by 1 vote. That is the convention and will not change. Normally the opposition would then be asked to try and form a Government. If that fails there will be a dissolution and there will be a clause in the legislation to allow for this. It just prevents any one person having absolute control over the timing of an election.

    These thresholds are used all over Europe to stop coalition partners triggering elections when it suits them politically. It is normal and sensible.

    It is new politics - get used to it.

  • Comment number 92.

    #21. fingerbob69 wrote:

    People should learn the difference between a vote of no confidence and a dissolution of Parliament before getting all hot under the collar about 55%!

    ==========================================================================

    Thanks for this, fingerbob69 (and damn you too ;) )! I was hoping to get back to letting the politicians get on with it, checking in now and again whilst I get on with my own life. However, I've got drawn into this 55% thing and want to understand it well enough to form an opinion.

    It helps to recognise there is a difference between a vote of no confidence and a dissolution of Parliament, which I didn't before! So let's see if I've got this right:

    First, I'll take the Queen element out of the picture. I know in reality we can't and that constitutionally it matters but I'm guessing if a different system is agreed in Parliament, an amended role for the Queen would not be a major issue.

    If this bill gets passed, in order to trigger a 'dissolution of Parliament', a 55% vote of MPs would be required. In this case a General Election is an inevitable consequence.

    However, if 50% of MPs are fed up with the current Government they can trigger a 'motion of no confidence'. Would this mean we're back to where we were after the election where we've got the same MPs (some of which may have changed allegience) and the challenge is for any combination of parties and independents to get a majority and form a new Government?

    BDd

  • Comment number 93.

    The suggested 55% rule says it all.

    Both the Tories and Lib Dems have sold their grass root supporters down the river. Both the boys are looking decidely grubby.

    Let's put a stop to this unhappy alliance and hold a General Election!

  • Comment number 94.

    Jumping to a conclusion perhaps? Two jumps in the Dark.

    I just read this, Nicholas but by my side is a piece on Mister Cameron's party and one Conservative blogger is reported to have "his finger on the pulse of Tory activists".

    Use your influence there would you, Mr Robinson? Has same pulsetaking person called a Time Of Death (TOD) yet? One pulse - therefore they Beat as One.

  • Comment number 95.

    I have one thing to say.

    Take a look at the picture of the cabinet towards the bottom - is this really reflective of our multi-cultural and bi-gender nation?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1278350/Baroness-Warsi-uses-No10-railing-coat-hook-poses-photo.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

    They don't represent 'us' - they represent middle aged, balding or grey haired men.

    That picture speaks a thousand words - and is why Government has not reflected the people for a very long time.

    This is not just reflective of this cabinet (before the Trolls get their backs up) - but a reflection on politics as a whole.

    Sad....very sad...

  • Comment number 96.

    61. At 11:19am on 14 May 2010, TheBlameGame wrote:

    "And still no word about the DPP's review of Tomlinson or unresolved cases of deaths in police custody or from police shootings. Disgusting for a 1st world democracy. It'll be interesting to see if the coalition lives up to its rhetoric on civil liberties and justice or if the tail will continue to wag the dog. "

    This is very true - 30 years after the police (now admitted likely) beat a protestor (Blair Peach) to death on the streets - do we have to wait another 30 years before an admission about Tomlinson is made - and at which point will anyone be prosecuted?

    It seems there are several strands of law in this country, one that you and I have to follow, and another which the enforcers of the law must adhere to.

    Meanwhile the population allows further erosion into it's civil liberties in the name of freedom and liberty??

  • Comment number 97.

    #41. stanilic wrote:
    It was Disraeli who defined the One Nation Conservative idea as `keep what is old and good and change what is old and bad'.

    ================================

    Hi stanillic, Would you cite a reference for this please? I was about to quote it on another forum and thought I'd better Google it first just to check. I can find Disraeli quotes with a similar sentiment but not that exact one.

    Best,

    BDd

  • Comment number 98.

    Ah yes, the newlabour sore losers machine is back in full force today.

    They are vaguely reminiscent of Ken Livingstone turning up at the GLA everyday watching Boris and shouting names at him from the sidelines.

    No-one is listening anymore and it's a rather dispiriting feeling, one imagines.

    As for the desperate noises about cracks appearing in the coalition; isn't this what a healthy democracratic country does? Debate the issues? Let's face it, the newlabour consensus delivered us a bankrupt economy, a corrupt parliament, a distorted electoral roll, eight million economically inactive, yada, yada, yada. And then it turned out they all hated each other after all and threw mobile phones and obscenities at each other in equal measure.

    Long may the popular media portray this coalition as 'riven with disagreements' ... 'crippled with argument' ... 'cracks appearing all over' .... the very moment they learn that all the coalition is doing is making a virtue out of a necessity we shall probably see it collapse.

    Newlabour have left the building...

  • Comment number 99.

    70. PortcullisGate

    Hands up! I struggled to follow what you typed so if I've taken an incorrect interpretation, I ask for your forbearance and hope that you would clarify.

    # the "Lib Dems felt" that they couldn't yield on others.
    > You've added some quote makes to my original text. Why? Are you questioning the fact that as a properly constituted party that offered itself for election, the Lib Dems have a right to act in accordance with how it felt it could best promote its agenda. I don't understand that position. Many of the comments I've seen in the last two days seem to suggest that the Lib Dems were viewed as an adjunct to the Labour party. They aren't. They never pretended to be.

    # Third Party made decision on who governed because "couldn't yield on others"
    > Why is that an issue? Some core principles won't be compromised. I hear a lot less criticism of the Tories for declaring those principles that they considered inviolate. And absolutely no criticism of Labour for refusal to budge on some of its manifesto. Are principles less strong and less keenly held because of the size of the vote?

    # Who gave them this power when they came third?
    > No one. Two MINORITY parties approached a set of negotiations and found sufficient common ground between them for them to be able to enter into an agreement. This happens in so many walks of life. Businesses that compete with each other will set up joint ventures because they can see that through cooperation, they both benefit.

    # They publicly beheaded a man that got more votes and seats than them.
    > And yet Labour did not negotiate well enough or sufficiently to secure agreement. In a crazy parallel world, Labour would have negotiated with the Tories for a programme for National Government. They didn't. Ultimately if some one says – play the game my way or not at all then they run the risk of being left all alone on the playing field. This is what happened. Gordon's choice on going/staying was his/Labour's. He resisted most calls against him for many years. I suspect that he was playing a more strategic hand – as in chess, through sacrifice he gained more for concessions from Labour's natural enemy.

    #If think this is a democratic outcome then I can't help you.
    > I Do. You don't need to help me. I grew up in a state that uses STV. It produces stable 4 to 5 year coalitions more often than not. The one time in the last 25 years that it managed to get one party government, it did not cover itself in glory. I believe that coalitions go some way towards keeping either side honest (or if you prefer, wary/distrustful – the outcome is the same) They avoid the excesses that we have seen in two periods of prolonged single party government.

    # It is a rare perverse outcome of FPTP but would be the nailed on outcome of every election to come.
    > I don't understand what this means.

    I would rather suffer it rarely not forever.

    # I can see why it would appeal to a Lib Dem but to the rest of use that does not equate to in the national interest.
    > I speak only for myself in this. I voted Lib Dem, I wanted a coalition but I do not assume to speak for any one – Lib Dem or otherwise.
    I hope that there are others out there who feel likewise and that they will over time add their voices to the debate. But it is their right to voice or without those opinions.
    For what it's worth.... I would probably have been happy with a Lib Dem / Labour coalition but suspect that I would have spent the last two days answering criticism from Tory supporters. That's the kicker about being in the middle – damned if you do and damned if you don't.

  • Comment number 100.

    At 11:49am on 14 May 2010, Greensleeves wrote:
    no 52 above is a good reason for these blogs to be restricted in content, (a more articulate person would be able to make their point in a far more concise way), and for some people to go back to school and learn to spell perhaps.

    have checked my entry and yes you are absolutely correct....there is a single typo....but I do accept that this is not the point...a spelling mistake is a spelling mistake and I should be very disappointed...I am very sorry I typed pilitical and not political and that this has caused you some upset...in my defence...easy mistake...the I & O are very close to each other on the QWERT keyboard...didn't mean to do it...hope you accept my sincerest apologies..p.s I thought I had ARTICULTAED myself quite well and in quite a humourous manner too...oops sorry about the above mis-spelling of ARTICULATED

    p.p.s am somewhat alarmed though at you views on censoring these blogs...free speech, democracy and all that old bean...or are you one of those naughty right wing type fellas who simply doesn't like to read criticism of anything he might believe in....media censorship eh and the silencing of opposing views..that's not playing fair and not very British and all that..albeit does seem to be the preferred way for the likes of Hu Jintao in China, Berdymuhammedov in Turkmenistan and that Eritrean chappy..Afewerki is it??

 

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